Pew Research shows that only 9 percent of Witnesses get undergraduate degrees. That's well below the national average of 30.4 percent and the lowest of any faith group. The likely reason for this trend is the religion's official warnings against college.
Witness leadership declined to speak to NPR for this story, but Anthony Morris III, a member of the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses, outlines the organization's policies clearly in a video on the organization's website. The Watchtower Organization discourages higher education for two basic reasons.
First, higher education is spiritually dangerous. In the video, Morris warns parents that "the most intelligent and eloquent professors will be trying to reshape the thinking of your child, and their influence can be tremendous." He goes on to say that continual association with non-believers in an academic setting can "erode thinking and convictions."
Witness leadership also discourages higher education because they believe it's a waste of time. Jehovah's Witnesses have been predicting the end of the world since the religion's founding at the end of the 19th century. By their rationale, time in college would be better spent out on the streets, converting persons to become Witnesses.
Morris makes it very clear that the Watchtower organization doesn't discourage education, but rather secular education.
"If parents and young ones are motivated to pursue divine education," Morris says, "the quest for higher secular education becomes less and less of an issue."